North Korea's use of automatic fire violates armistice, Seoul says

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Nov. 27, 2017 at 9:13 AM
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Nov. 27 (UPI) -- North Korean soldiers who pursued and shot at a defecting soldier in the Joint Security Area are in violation of a U.N. cease-fire agreement, South Korea's defense minister said.

During a visit to the truce village of Panmunjom on Monday, Song Young-moo said North Korean soldiers violated the armistice because they deployed rapid-fire capabilities at the border, South Korean news service EDaily reported.

Song made the remarks after being briefed on the situation at the border by Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson, the deputy commander of United Nations Command Korea, and other members of the U.N. command.

"The U.N. military armistice commission briefed me on two counts of armistice agreement violations, and I told them the deployment of rapid-fire capabilities at the border is also a violation," Song said.

North Korean soldiers used pistols to target the defecting soldier with the surname Oh, as well as AK-47 rifles at the border.

The soldiers fired 40 rounds of ammunition, wounding the defector who is convalescing at a South Korean hospital.

South Korean intelligence officials have also said North Koreans prepared to deploy a number of machine guns in the JSA following the incident.

Belt-fed machine guns are also banned from use in the DMZ, according to EDaily.

The incident is another reason for a suspended channel of communication between North and South to be reopened, South Korea's unification minister said Monday.

Cho Myoung-gyun said securing a channel is an "urgent" priority in order to prevent accidental clashes at the border, Yonhap reported.

Kim Chang-soo, a policy adviser for the minister, said in a statement that only reflected his personal views, Seoul is trying to alleviate tensions ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February.

North Korea may have swapped out soldiers at the DMZ following the incident.

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